Happy Fathers Day … of my workaholic daddy

A father plays a pivotal role in determining the outcomes of his daughter/s.

Not every father is perfect and this was something I realized later on – way past childhood. It’s only by reflection do I realize that I had somehow inherited these imperfections and practising it in daily living.

My fathers Achilles Heel was that he was and still is a workaholic. He calls it dedication and passion towards his job. Which is actually true, but all this comes with a price and often at the expense of sacrificing precious time with his own family.

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I don’t blame him. After all, he himself was orphaned at the age of 5. His father died drowning in the river nearby home. He was raised by a single mother and he had like.. many other siblings. His father figure was his own grandfather who worked as a male amah in a house owned by an Englishmen. Father learnt how to set the table for a formal dinner. He observed how the Englishmen conversed with each other. His early childhood life had a lot of English influence to it.

Most importantly, he learnt the importance of an education and a stable job with a stable income. He was trained to work and study hard. He knew at a very young age that nothing is impossible. That he can achieve his dream to live a comfortable life. Indeed, he did.

He is now a top ranked officer in his department. And he still has ambitions to work past his pension age. He is already scouting for jobs in the private sector despite us children protesting and saying “Dad.. its time for you to rest!”

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I grew up knowing that he is a hard working man. He would leave very early in the morning and sometimes come back late at night. We even had suspicions that he was keeping a mistress, but of course who would  have time for that. Subsequently, we children then came to a ‘norm’ where in our family.. work or study always comes first.

Family time can wait. The holiday trips can wait. The dinner can wait. Both parents do not have to attend the prize giving ceremony, the end of year concert, the finals of my story telling competition. We accepted that Work is important and being 2nd was normal. We had no grudges at the time knowing that.

We didn’t see Dad The Workaholic as a sin. We see it as a need for our sustenance. For our future. Inevitably, I too then became a workaholic which was a ‘good thing’ I guess since my chosen line of work was being a doctor in Malaysia. Often, Id work till late, skipping meals, taking short hot showers, staying overnight in the hospital despite not being oncall because I was too tired postcall to actually drive myself back home.

I didn’t feel there was anything wrong with my life. After all, I felt it was part of the job. That is until I met Mr Husband & his close-knitted family. Not to say we were not close in our family but we had inhibitions and tend to choose the topic to ‘discuss’ with the family. Spontaneity and public displays of affection was rare. It happens once in a while but at times it appears awkward.

Mr Husband talked about everything to his family. He confided everything to his parents. He would make time to attend a family function if he can help it. I would usually just say ‘Im working’ or ‘I have lectures that day’.

And now that I’m married with a kid, I have to make a conscious decision every time to put my family first. Because that is what I now want having discovered the beauty of family support. I intend to also extend the same gesture to my own family. Although I have to ‘make appointments’ before coming back to visit my folks.. at least we are heading somewhere to bridge the old gaps. Its different with Mr Husband where he could just barge into his parents house at any time of the day and they’d think its normal. If I were to do that, my parents would question, ” you should have called.. I’ll make you a pie”. Ha ha. On a different note,perhaps they were trying to make a lasting impression during that visit.

Im still a workaholic passionate & dedicated person to my job. But I’ve learnt that Family still comes first. I still wish that my dad would reconsider his ambition to work beyond 60. Ha ha.. Happy Fathers Day Daddy. I’ll see you next week.

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3R : Read, Reflect, Respond

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